Monday, July 13, 2015

June 29, 2015 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

A year ago yesterday I got endowed in the Cardston Temple. I am grateful for the temple and the sacred ordinances that we make in the temple such as being sealed for time and all eternity, endowment, baptisms for the dead, and confirmations. I am glad that Chris got to go to the temple on Friday on a day where we needed to feel peace. On a somber Monday morning, I write you my last letter under President Leavitt's stewardship. It has been a very interesting week. You are in for a special treat today. This will be one of the most heart-felt letters I will have ever written to you. In this letter I will talk about two main things - 1. The Plan of Happiness and 2. President Leavitt.

While we were in Liverpool on Friday, a less-active told us something very alarming. He told us that gay marriage is now legal everywhere in the United States. We were hoping he was wrong. But when we went on that night we saw the statement the Church had made. I would have loved to not hear about that but I'm afraid there was no escaping something that big and significant. We saw a number of rainbow flags that day. We made the connection after we found out about the ruling.

One of my favorite hymns is "Master The Temptest is Raging." I will quote some of the verses. "Master the temptest is raging, the billows are tossing high, ... the winds and waves shall obey thy will, peace be still, peace be still." That relates to the temptest we are now facing. The Lord can command the temptest to obey his will. Peace be still. The Lord is in charge and can calm any storm we face. 

It is interesting how in this last general conference they spoke a lot about families. Bonnie L. Oscarson gave a talk in the women's session on being defenders of the family. In her talk she shared a story of a young girl who stood up for her beliefs. There was a mob of people outside some missionaries' apartment. Yelling at them to get out so they could torture the missionaries. This young girl came out and commanded them to depart with conviction and authority. They then departed. She said if it wasn't for the Lord she couldn't have done that by herself. Bonnie L. Oscarson then talks about how not all of us will have to stood up for our beliefs like this young girl did. But we all need to defend our beliefs and doctrines. She then talks about how some of our most cherished and sacred doctrine is being attacked. Particularly marriage. Now she's talking to women but I think this applies to everyone. She talks about how as disciples of Jesus Christ we need to raise our voices in proclaiming the truth and defending our beliefs.

At the same general conference, Elder L. Tom Perry talks about Why Marriage and Family Matter. "We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values—but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God." The family is key to a stable economy and society. He also talks about how marriage is between "One man and one women" This is part of the plan of happiness.

Elder Christoffersen also gave a talk on family. "A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive." He talks about the first commandment God gave to Adam and Eve was to multiply and replenish the earth. One thing that stuck out to me was that Heavenly Father created us from the beginning and has a divine plan and destiny for each of us. 

Elder Robert D. Hales talked about religious freedom. "As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right." Something that stuck out to me was that we need to stand up for our beliefs together in unity.

In the Family A Proclamation to the world. It says "WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."

So that's basically saying we're telling you if you don't make this a point then the your going to have bad things happen and it's not going to be good.

I testify to all who will read this that marriage is between a man and a women. We were created in God's image. Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us. One of the recitations we recite in companion study is the Standard of Truth. "The Standard of truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing." No group of people, no individual can touch this Church... ever! They will try and fail every time. The Lord is at the head of this Church. 

For the past 11 months, I have had the honor and blessing of having President Leavitt as my mission president. He has been like a Father to me and means everything to me. He has cared for me like I was his son from the beginning. He knows me better than I know myself. He has taught me many things. He taught me how to love others. He taught that everyone matters.  He has taught key principles that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. He has had a big emphasis on follow-up. One of my favorite quotes from him is "Worry is a prayer to the wrong God." He was also big on asking ourselves "What did we learn, What did we feel, What are we going to do about it." He always had a big sense of humor. My favorite memory of him was when I was at Christmas Zone Conference and he took me, Elder Dupin, and Elder Willougby out to Subway. While at Subway he came right up to me and asked me how I was doing with my panic attacks. It was at that point I knew he really cared about me. I had my last interview with President Leavitt on Thursday. It was very simple and to the point. He said "it's been a privilege to have you in the mission and I wish you nothing but the best with the rest of your mission." He has played a profound impact in my life and I will truly miss him. 

My week was good. I went on an exchange with Elder McNabb in Kentville on Wednesday and it was bittersweet. Kentville is a lot different from when I left it. I got to see the Drennan's again. It was a nice reunion. They seemed happy to see me again. We picked up two new investigators on Saturday. We knocked into them and they let us right in. They are an older couple. They grew up Baptist. They had a lot of questions about the Book of Mormon, prayer, and baptism. Another investigator was at Church yesterday and seemed to have really enjoyed it. She is showing sincere interest right now and is progressing really well.

Hope you have a good week! Happy Canada Day!

God be with you till we meet again, President Leavitt!


Elder O'Brien

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